Sunday, May 24, 2020

Special Feature: A Free Feminist Movie about Renowned Japanese Tanka Poet Fumiko Nakajo

My Dear Readers:

In celebration of the Tanka Poetry Month (to expand the readership base for tanka through tweeting at least one tanka a day for the month of May, for more information, see Celebrate Tanka Poetry Month with NeverEnding Story), I am pleased to introduce you to Kinuyo Tanaka's The Eternal Breasts (乳房よ永遠なれ, 1955), a feminist movie about Japanese tanka poet, Fumiko Nakajo, author of Breasts of Snow, the story and tanka of one of the best tanka poets, Fumiko Nakajo (1922-54), who is, though almost unknown outside of Japan, considered to be the third in the three most famous Japanese female poets in the last century, right up there with Akiko Yosano and Machi Tawara (see my "Cool Announcement" post, "Breasts of Snow," that includes the bio, reviews, and selected tanka).

Roughly based on the autobiography of Fumiko Nakajo, who died of breast cancer in 1954, aged 31, The Eternal Breasts provides a window into Japanese society from a feminist perspective; it depicts a woman’s struggle through marital betrayal, divorce, single motherhood, and growing  independence in rural Japan, and most importantly, her tough fight against a male-dominated literary establishment to become a poet who successfully creates "a room of [her] own."

The Eternal Breasts, 1955, directed by Kinuyo Tanaka

Below are three tanka about her heart-wrenching struggle with breast cancer:

as the surgical knife
slowly slits open
the past
my fetuses appear
kicking each other in the dark

in search of a shore
where I might spot my breast
drifting along
with white jellyfish
I'll go to sleep again

that hill
shaped like the breast
I have lost
will be adorned with
dead flowers in winter
(translated by Makoto Ueda)


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Early Morning Stroll Haiku by Elehna de Sousa

English Original

early morning stroll ...
puddle gazing
into cherry blossoms

Sakura Award, 2016 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

Elehna de Sousa

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

清晨漫步 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Elehna de Sousa was born and raised in Hong Kong. She came to Canada in 1967 for higher studies and has stayed every since. Formerly a psychotherapist, she now is active in the world of mixed-media art, photography and short form Japanese poetry. She currently lives on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia where her creativity is nurtured by the quietude and beauty of her living environment, surrounded by forest and sea. In 2005, she published a limited edition book of photography and haiku, A Shower of Blossoms.

One Man's Maple Moon: Confusion Tanka by Jane Reichhold

English Original

in a fog
with no east or west
my confusion
seems as if I am wearing
the day wrong side out

Take Five, 3, 2010

Jane Reichhold

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Jane Reichhold was born as Janet Styer in 1937 in Lima , Ohio , USA . She had published over thirty books of haiku, renga, tanka, and translations. Her latest tanka book, Taking Tanka Home was translated into Japanese by Aya Yuhki. Her most popular book is Basho The Complete Haiku by Kodansha International. As founder and editor of AHA Books, Jane also published Mirrors: International Haiku Forum, Geppo, for the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and she had co-edited with Werner Reichhold, Lynx for Linking Poets since 1992. Lynx went online in 2000 in the web site Jane started in 1995. Since 2006 she had maintained an online forum – AHAforum

Friday, May 22, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Long Gone Promise Haiku by Pragya Vishnoi

English Original

starless night
this long gone promise
of spring rain

Pragya Vishnoi

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Pragya Vishnoi lives in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India and works at a bank. Her haiku have been published in Better Than Starbucks, Presence,  The Heron's Nest and Frogpond. She loves reading Japanese literature, especially short fictions written by Ryonsuke Akutagawa, Mieko Kawakami and Banana Yoshimoto.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A Room of My Own: Songs of Comfort Tanka

Sixty-Fifth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary, for Yo-Yo Ma, renowned and beloved Taiwanese American cellist

Songs of Comfort
echoing against this wall
of ghostly shadows ...
note by note my heart reopens
to this infected world

FYI: For more about Yo-Yo Ma's Songs of Comfort, see PBS's Arts and Culture, "Yo-Yo Ma on encouraging 'Songs of Comfort' amid global crisis."

Added: Sixty-Sixth Entry

a street apart
in the morning chill
a mask-free Trump fan
and a masked Trump foe
air-quote each other

Added: Sixty-Seventh Entry

locked down
in his iron castle
she counts the days
until the vaccine is ready
or he's killed by the virus

PoemHunter, May 22 2020

Note: The sixty-seventh entry is a sequel to the twenty-first entry:

balcony workout
a side-glance at the bruises
on my neighbor's neck

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Mother’s Blanket Haiku by Rachel Sutcliffe

English Original

mother’s blanket
the worn corners
of warmth

First Place, 2017 Hortensia Anderson Haiku Contest

Rachel Sutcliffe

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Rachel Sutcliffe had suffered from a serious immune disorder for over 16 years; throughout  this time writing had been her therapy, and it kept her from going insane! She was an active member of the British Haiku Society and had been published in various journals including  Prune Juice, Failed Haiku and Hedgerow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Porch Light and Moths Tanka by Carol Jones

English Original

porch light
still on for my husband ...
do these moths
gather around
for its comfort too?

Carol Jones

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

仍然為了我的丈夫亮著 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

仍然为了我的丈夫亮着 ...

Bio Sketch

Carol Jones lives and works on a farm in one of the South Wales valleys, UK. Although she hasn't the time to get involved in the wider environmental issues, she does document her own environment as she goes about her work.

Monday, May 18, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Blue Bowl Tanka by Carole MacRury

English Original

fills the emptiness
of a blue bowl --
this life of loving,
losing, letting go

The Right Touch of Sun, 2017

Carole MacRury

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

的空碗 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

的空碗 --

Bio Sketch

Carole MacRury resides in Point Roberts, Washington, a unique peninsula and border town that inspires her work.  She is the author of In the Company of Crows: Haiku and Tanka Between the Tides (Black Cat Press, 2008, 2nd Printing, 2018) and The Tang of Nasturtiums, an award-winning e-chapbook (Snapshot Press 2012).  

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Second Chance Haiku by Neal Whitman

English Original

no one
gives me a second chance
jury duty

Neal Whitman

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Neal Whitman lives with his wife, Elaine, in Pacific Grove, California, where he is a docent at Point Pinos Lighthouse. Visitors who come there from near and far inspire him to write poetry that takes the “particular" to convey the “universal". Neal is Vice President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society.

One Man's Maple Moon: Embers Tanka by Miriam Dunn

English Original

Embers smolder
below the mantle ashes
but there is no warmth
My fire has not died
Your fire has not died

Miriam Dunn

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Miriam Dunn is a Nova Scotian poet and author of Who Will Love the Crow. She serves on the Board of Directors of the League of Canadian Poets and is a member of Haiku Canada. When not writing, Miriam may be singing, playing an instrument, or baking bread.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Stars and Stripes Haiku by Fay Aoyagi

English Original

morning chill --
the Stars and Stripes
on his breast pocket 

Chrysanthemum Love, 2003

Fay Aoyagi


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

寒冷早晨 --

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

寒冷早晨 --

Bio Sketch

Fay Aoyagi (青柳飛)was born in Tokyo and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. She is currently a member of Haiku Society of America and Haiku Poets of Northern California. She serves as an associate editor of The Heron's Nest.  She also writes in Japanese and belongs to two Japanese haiku groups; Ten'I (天為) and "Aki"(秋), and  she is a member of Haijin Kyokai (俳人協会).

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Room of My Own: Talk the Talk

Fifty-Eighth Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
To Justin Trudeau who addressed the House of Commons on saving the elderly from coronavirus on April 11, saying, They fought for us all those years ago. And today we fight for them. We will show ourselves to be worthy of this magnificent country they built.

at the briefing
the photogenic PM's mouth
opens and closes ...
a nursing home silhouetted
against the sunset sky

forty more deaths
slides across the bottom
of the screen ...
a nurse's voice falters,
this elder genocide

Added: Fifty-Nineth Entry

gathering dark
she touches her father's face
behind the glass door

FYI: The Globe and Mail April 13 report, "Outbreaks at seniors’ homes linked to almost half of COVID-19 deaths in Canada, Theresa tam says."Toronto Star May 7 report, "82% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care, new data reveals." And for more information, see Russell Richer's National Observer May 15 opinion piece, COVID-19: Chronology of the Long-Term Care Tragedy.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

One Man's Maple Moon: Summer Moonlight Tanka by Sheila Bello

English Original

summer moonlight
slips in through the window ...
I take a sip of wine
while reading Li Po's poem

Sheila Bello

Chinese Translation (Traditional)

從窗戶溜滑進入 ...

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

从窗户溜滑进入 ...

Bio Sketch

Sheila Bello writes haiku, tanka, lyric poetry, flash fiction and creative non-fiction. She lives close to the Scarborough Bluffs in Ontario, Canada. Sheila was born in Trinidad and migrated to Canada in 1972. She is inspired by nature and is an avid gardener.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Butterfly Dream: Texting Haiku by Srinivasa Rao Sambangi

English Original

snail pace traffic
now and then
faster texting

Cattails, October 2017

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi 

Chinese Translation (Traditional)


Chinese Translation (Simplified)


Bio Sketch

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi, a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma, is currently working in a pharmaceutical company as Head of Operational Excellence. He lives in Hyderabad, India

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Cool Announcement: A Freebie, Rubber-Ball Days

My Dear Friends:

I'm happy to share with you this exciting news: NeverEnding Story contributor, Dave Read, published a  collection of tanka, titled Rubber-Ball Days: A Chapbook of Lockdown Tanka, and shared his fine work as a free download available at his blog, Dave Read Poetry.

Selected Tanka:

a cool breeze
pushes its way
through my window —
the chill
of self-isolation

the pantry’s stuffed
with food
for weeks
we nibble
a side of hope

trying to help
flatten the curve
I cinch in
my belt
one more notch

remaining inside
for self-isolation
we infect
each other’s

he asks me
when the pandemic
will end —
I study the slope
of his shoulders

his workplace
a new round of layoffs —
he muffles his thoughts
with a mask

bouncing inside
our rubber-ball days
the deafening
of boredom

sandcastles line
the now open beach —
we await
the next wave
of the virus

And yesterday marked the end of the second month of the WHO pandemic announcement, share with you the selected entries of my Coronavirus Poetry Diary, Second Month:

Opening Up America Again
the size of this billboard
seen from my attic window

for weeks in an attic
of shadows ...
I open the window
to morning birdsong

balcony concert
my dog and I sing along
to LeanOnMe

a tired nurse
opens the bedside window
my friend's voice
flows in with the night breeze
as his mother's eyes close

this scent
of breezy sunshine ...
Hillary Clinton
wears a black mask
with VOTE in white letters

FYI: I’ve got the must-have accessory for spring. I’m wearing a mask (and voting!) for my country, my community, and my grandchildren. -- Hillary Clinton, The Hill, May 2

lockdown lifted
still no handshake, no hugno kiss
fading into the dark

brown spots
in the front lawn
spring rain
tapping on the window
and my quarantined mind


for Søren Kierkegaard who called his melancholy “the most faithful mistress I have known."

death toll rising...
in illness and in fear
with my drunken shadow
apart together

quarantined for weeks
with my drunken shadow
in the attic
I tanka-barricade the door
to my mistress's chamber

in dim light
my quarantined mind races
back and forth
between the old and new normal:
this world of masked faces

Happy Reading